The Presidential Task Force for the Control of COVID-19) has said that it is yet to receive any money from the funds donated by the private sector towards the fight against the pandemic.
Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is also a member of the committee disclosed this when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Forum over the weekend to give update on the activities of the task force in the fight against the pandemic.
Alhaji Mohammed expressed dismay over reported calls by some non-governmental organisations, NGOs, seeking the probe of the task force over the deployment of monies gathered from the donations.
The minister said, “We have not received even one kobo; people want us probed for how we spent monies we have not even seen.”
Recall that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had, similarly called for the disbandment of the task force to be replaced by Eminent Nigerians Group to manage the donations from the private sector and palliatives from the Federal Government.
Describing such criticisms as unfounded, Alhaji Mohammed said, “I can say without any fear that as of this moment, the task force has not received a kobo from anybody.
“The only money we will be able to account for is whatever money we receive from the Federal Government.
“The Nigeria Economy Group-led private sector has said it is not going to give a penny to the task force; it said it will only raise the money and ask us what our needs are.”
He said that the task force had already compiled the needs, adding, “We have asked for more equipment and facilities, especially for those who might test positive to the virus.
“We anticipate a spike in the number of people that will test positive but there should be no cause for alarm.
“What we need now are equipment and bed facilities where those who have tested positive can be admitted, because we do not want a situation where there will be no bed space.
“When people test positive, it depends on the stage. If it is mild, such persons do not need to go to the hospital. It can still be managed at the isolation centres.
The minister said that apart from the equipment such as the testing machines, ventilators and personnel protective equipment, the task force is working on ramp-up training of personnel to handle the equipment.
He said that in addition to the existing COVID-19 testing centres set up by the task force, two had been newly opened in Ibadan and Abakaliki while that of Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Kano would join soon.
Alhaji Mohammed added that in about a week’s time, two private concerns would also set up their laboratories to start running the test which would increase testing capacity to 5,000 per day.
He reiterated that Nigeria was also expecting the new technology that would increase testing capacity to about half a million per day.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had recently disclosed that monetary contributions by the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, had totaled up to about N15 billion so far.
CBN spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, said the fund, domiciled in an account set up under CACOVID, has so far received donations from 37 donors including individuals, banks and other corporate organisations.
A breakdown of the contributions showed that N2 billion came from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Aliko Dangote Foundation, respectively contributed N2 billion each; while Abdul Samad Rabiu, BUA Sugar Refinery; Segun Agbaje, GTB; Tony Elumelu, UBA; Oba Otudeko, First Bank; Jim Ovia, Zenith Bank; Herbert Wigwe, Access Bank and Femi Otedola of Amperion Power Distribution donated N1 billion each to the relief fund.